Mass. voters brace for potential special election - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Mass. voters brace for potential special election

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(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – Just when you thought you had successfully endured a grueling presidential election and an intense U.S. Senate race…get ready.

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts voters may find themselves right in the middle of another election. As speculation swirls around Sen. John Kerry possibly leaving for a cabinet post, Gov. Deval Patrick could find himself again appointing a temporary U.S. Senator.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Gov. Patrick said he did wish the law were different. Instead of appointing an interim U.S. Senator for just a few months until a special election, he says he would have liked to have been able to appoint a replacement until the next statewide election.

"Look that's the way a lot of states do it. I wish it were that way here, but I don't think anybody has any appetite to change it again. I don't. We have other things to do," Patrick said.

The law has been changed a couple of times, thanks to partisan politics in Massachusetts.

In 2004, when Kerry was running for president of the United States, our Democratic-controlled state legislature changed the law to make sure then Republican Governor Mitt Romney wasn't able to appoint a temporary U.S. Senator, in case Kerry won.

Then in 2009, lawmakers changed it back so the governor could appoint an interim U.S. Senator until a special election. That governor, Democrat Deval Patrick.

Patrick in turn appointed former Kennedy staffer Paul Kirk to ensure a Democratic vote on health care.

At the time, Kirk promised not to run for the open seat.

The governor was cagey when asked if he'd insist the next interim U.S Senator not run.

"Maybe," he said. "It's too soon to say what I'm going to do because we don't have a vacancy yet." He went on to say, "If a special election is held quickly it is hard to imagine an interim appointee to be able to do that job and run for office at the same time. But as I said, I'm going to make a decision when I have a decision to make."

All of this hinges on whether or not Sen. Kerry actually gets a cabinet post.

Former Governor Mike Dukakis told FOX 25 he believes Kerry would do well in either job.

"Look, I think the world of John. I've always thought of him as a foreign policy guy. That's his great love, but some of it has to do with the president, what he needs and whether or not he sees John as somebody who would be a good fit."

If Sen. Kerry gets a cabinet position, the governor will appoint an interim U.S. Senator, and then a special election is set. There is a time limit on when the election can take place.

A date needs to be scheduled no earlier than 145 days and not later than 160 days of the vacancy.

The way the law is written, there is nothing to keep the interim U.S. Senator from running for the open seat. In fact, that could give the temporary replacement a leg up going into a special election.

The winner of the special election still would have to run for the seat again in 2014 because that's when Kerry's term would expire.

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